The elbow leads the recovery and the fingertips lead the hand entry. Make this a consistent reality and see your swimming improve dramatically. Read on and get a head start on this delightful theme. 

In order of the movement sequence, we will start with the arm recovery. The recovery phase of the freestyle stroke is when the arm is out of the water. The resistant forces are less as the arm is travelling through the air. A good moment to relax the hand and arm. Ideally SwimGym coaches would like to see the elbow pop up and stay outside the shoulder throughout the recovery phase.

The following are common mistakes made by adult learnt swimmers: not pushing all the way out at the end of your stroke, over rotating and leading the recovery with the hand. Pushing out completely ensures that the hand and arm are moving up already like a pendulum when exiting the water. Pushing all the way back does not allow the hand to lead and would be our number one tip to help the recovery become more consistent. 

Rotating while swimming is essential, but over rotating can hurt more than your recovery, it can also injure your shoulders. Over rotating happens when the elbow exits and moves sideways across the back. The result is some flexibility gymnastics that causes injuries but also results in the leading arm crossing over the middle line. Two undesirables. 

The surest way and our main focus is leading with the elbow. Imagine that you are a puppet and that there is a string attached to your elbow. As your arm exits the water, your elbow is pulled up by the string. Your elbow is pointing up to the roof the whole time. The shark fin drill is a perfect complement to exact this movement precisely. So, go to our tutorials and see how it's done. 

Next in order of sequence is the hand entry. A perfect hand entry is executed with a slightly bent arm and fingertips leading. The bent arm is approximately three quarters of your arm’s length. This promotes an active hand entry. Try and avoid the two extremes, a straight arm or extremely bent elbow when entering. Ask your coach for feedback.
An active hand entry is where the hand enters the water fingertips first and middle finger leading. This is important for the positioning of the arm and hand underwater for the catch. Imagine that the hand slots into a rail that pulls the hand forward and in a straight line with the shoulder. Keep fingertips pointing very slightly down after entry.

A common mistake is to enter with the elbow first. Try and avoid this at all costs. It makes a distinctive plopping sound and will be picked up by the coaches. This entry drops the elbow in the water and makes the catch difficult and places undue stress on the shoulder. 

We know that this has ignited the fire to put this all into practice. 


So, what about that recovery and hand entry? The elbow leads the recovery and the fingertips lead the hand entry. Yes, it really is that simple. And there is no need to make it more complicated.

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We have all seen competitive swimmers swim with such ease and smoothness. The way their arms move over the water looks like it does not cost them any energy at all. The arm recovery is when swimmers take a tiny break from swimming after each pull-th... read on »